Seated Woman (Frontispiece for Contrée)
Artist: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Medium: Etching on copper printed in deep red
Dimensions: Print 245 x 131mm, 9 5/8 x 5 3/16″; sheet 377 x 286 mm; 14 7/8 x 11 1/4″
Signature: Signed in bright royal blue pencil at bottom; signed and dated in the plate
References: Bloch 362; Baer 689Bb; Cramer 39;
Elliott, Picasso on Paper, National Galleries of Scotland, 2007, illustrated p.84
Unique Printing: A unique, unrecorded impression, the only impression printed in dark red, one of only several hand-signed, even fewer signed in blue pencil, and one of the only impressions on an oversized sheet (I know of one other trial proof printed on Japon that is also oversized)
Paper: A handmade, unusually heavy (200 or 300 lb. weight), hyper-absorbent Winsor & Newton watercolor paper, almost 1mm in thickness, with deckled edges on 3 sides, and with deeply impressed platemarks. This heavy watercolor paper, intended to best absorb watercolor, is apparently also more absorbent of the printer’s ink than the other types of paper that Picasso more typically used.
Watermark: Winsor & Newton winged lion, to the left of the subject
Impression: Exceptional, with plate tone throughout, especially at the top, like a cloud above the subject. (There is no plate tone in the regular edition, at least not in the multiple impressions that I’ve seen.)
Price: Upon request
In addition to the unsigned regular edition, Baer and Goeppert/Cramer mention ten deluxe sets of books, each of which contains a set of four etchings, printed in blue, green, and orange in addition to the standard black:
Picasso signed each of these ten books in blue pencil on the justification page, but not on the prints themselves. This is an interesting set, but, apart from the black, the other colors he chose are rather light, especially the green and orange, reducing the contrast and hence the visibility of the art. Not so with the striking impression at hand.
Nor does Baer note any other impression that is printed on an oversized sheet or that is hand-signed in blue on the sheet itself. (Baer records four trial proofs (“epreuves d’essai”) printed on four different papers, different from ours, but doesn’t mention the presence or absence of signatures upon them. One of these four prints, thusly annotated in black ink and bearing a black ink signature, was auctioned in Paris in 2012, fetching 13,000 euro, despite rather extensive foxing. Another is in the collection of the Picasso Museum Barcelona. A third, unsigned impression on oversized Japon, is in the private collection of a friend of mine.
For the poignant backstory of this etching, please see the discussion of our impression from the regular edition.